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Curveball

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  1. Hello everyone. I hope the summer has been going well for you all, and that those of us starting up again in September feel well-rested and prepared to take on the challenges of a new semester. I'm starting the 4th year of a nursing degree, and unfortunately my program did not include the foundational courses in physics, chemistry, or biochemistry, (although I did take courses in English, anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, and psychology). My most recent experience with physics and chemistry was when I completed the high-school-level courses in 2016. What would be the best way to go about studying for these topics? If I took a preparatory course like the ones offered by Kaplan, how much prior knowledge do they assume? Has anyone here been in a similar situation, where they needed to study these topics more or less from the ground up? If so, how did you go about studying for them, and how long did it take? I realize it'll take more than the 3-6 months most people on here seem to spend preparing, but I'm nervous that it'll end up taking me years to get to the level I need to get a competitive MCAT score. Any help is appreciated, and I wish all of you all the best.
  2. I think I know how you feel. I'm 24 years old, and I've had a lot of moments where I feel the same as you (I'll be 25 when I finish my undergrad), but the way I see it, when I'm 60 or 70 years old and looking to retire, I'm going to feel pretty silly about not trying to do something I really wanted because I thought I was too old in my mid-twenties. By the way, I'm doing a nursing undergrad, I still have one year to go, and my oldest classmate in my year (that I know of) is in her mid 40s and has a couple of kids. And you know what? I'd say that she's a better student and care provider than the majority of my classmates, based on what I've seen in clinical placements, labs, and in our class discussions. Don't start thinking that when you hit a certain age it becomes impossible for your life to progress any more; that sort of thinking quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's true that you might not be able to get promoted to a certain level in a lot of organizations, due to seniority and the experience needed for certain positions, but if someone is so preoccupied with things like titles, rank/seniority, and money, that it's got them rethinking their career path if they can't have them, medicine isn't the right choice to begin with.
  3. I was thinking, maybe we should update that flow chart on the first page of this thread? It's over 10 years old at this point, and the grades you need to be competitive now are appreciably higher than they were in 2008. I'm going into my fourth year of undergrad, and I'm planning on applying only to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine this year because I haven't written the MCAT yet and I want to take some time after I graduate to prepare for it. I'm doing a nursing undergrad at Ryerson, so I didn't take the bio/chem/organic chem/math/physics courses, needed for it, and I need to go through those on my own if I'm going to have a shot at this thing. On the other hand, on the off-chance that I could get in at NOSM, that wouldn't be an issue, so I figure it's worth a shot. I'm not from Northern Ontario. I grew up in Toronto, although I did live in Sudbury from late 2012-mid 2014 to go to college (I have an electrical technician diploma from Cambrian College). My French is absolute entry-level. It's something I'm working on everyday, but right now I couldn't carry on a conversation in French. GPA (all numbers are using the OMSAS scale): cGPA is 3.88. Without summer courses it's a 3.87. First year GPA was a 3.78, 2nd year was a 3.95, 3rd year was a 3.91. In my upcoming 4th year I'll only have 6 courses because the last year of nursing school is focused mainly on clinical placements, so I don't anticipate that my GPA will change much either way; I'll probably be finishing my degree with a mid-high 3.8 on the OMSAS sale. ECs : 100+ hours volunteering in Long Term Care Since January of this year, I've been working part-time as a Personal Support Worker for a home care agency in downtown Toronto (12 hours/week). Care is usually monitoring, helping with transfers, housekeeping/organizing, reminders for things like medications, morning/personal care, etc. Director of Community Outreach for the Canadian Nursing Student's Association at my school (I help organize events for students related to career development and academic success, doing things like event planning, room booking, and fundraising). Anatomy and Physiology Tutor (I create mock-exams and run sessions where we'd go through the content as a group). Member of UHN's Learner Leadership Committee (we participate in focus groups and conferences directed at raising the quality of education at UHN facilities). This year I also won a student election to sit on the school's student senate for the following academic year, but that hasn't started yet. The student senate makes decisions related to curriculum changes, academic policy, accreditation requirements, etc. Research: No current publications, but I'm working with a prof on a few studies related to the impact of gun violence on homicide co-victims. She said she expects a few publications out of the work she's done, but no word yet on when that may happen. In addition, for this summer I've been working at a summer job with the Ontario Nurses Association, a provincial union. We're doing research on creating an evidence-based delivery model for the services they offer to their members. These are qualitative and administrative nursing research, not biomedical or clinical research. Does it sound like I have an outside chance?
  4. As I understand it, the grade weighting at U of T is based on the course load for the years you were doing your degree. If every semester of every year of your degree was done with a full course load (they define this as 5 courses per semester), then you should be eligible for the weighted GPA. If the prereqs weren't taken on a full-time basis, they're not going to be counted in your GPA by U of T.
  5. I hate to sound like I'm giving you a cop-out answer, but it's hard to say because a lot of schools calculate things their own way. There isn't a single standard that applies to all schools in Canada, or even all schools in province. Some schools offer a weighted formula based on course load, others look at all undergrad course work regardless of status, others still only take specific years. To give you some examples: U of T: only looks at course work done during an undergrad degree. If every semester of every year was completed with a minimum of 5 courses, however, you're eligible for their weighted GPA, where they drop your lowest marks from each year. They specifically say on their website "Part-time and summer courses are counted towards meeting the prerequisite and degree requirements but they will not be included in the GPA calculation." (https://md.utoronto.ca/gpa-and-gpa-weighting). So U of T wouldn't count them. University of Western Ontario: Looks at your two best years where you were taking at least 5 courses each semester. They would also not count your part time prerequisite courses: "Part-time years cannot be considered for GPA, regardless of the requirements of degree programs." (https://www.schulich.uwo.ca/med_dent_admissions/medicine/admission_requirements.html#grade_point_average) Northern Ontario School of Medicine: "The GPA is calculated on all converted undergraduate course grades completed at a recognized institution as of the application deadline." (https://www.nosm.ca/education/md-program/admissions/admission-requirements/). NOSM would count your part-time prereqs. University of British Columbia: "based on all university-transferable courses attempted (including summer courses taken prior to the year of application and graduate courses with grades, if applicable)." (https://mdprogram.med.ubc.ca/admissions/evaluation-criteria/). But they also have their own weighted GPA formula for if you've completed 90 credits by the time you're applying. I think UBC would also count your part time courses. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. You need to look at any/all of the schools you want to apply to, and see for yourself if they'd count your part-time science pre-reqs as part of your GPA or not. Some will, some won't. I think a better (or at least simpler) way to look at it would be "Do I want to apply to US schools or not?". If you do, you need those prereqs regardless of what the process is at some Canadian schools, and you need damn good marks in them. Don't worry about whether or not they'll drag your GPA down; you don't have the option of letting that happen. To be competitive in the US, you need to ace these courses, and you need to ace your MCAT. It's not about protecting your undergrad GPA, it's about succeeding in courses you have to succeed in. If you aren't going to apply to US schools, you have to decide for yourself if it's worth the time/money needed to take those courses. Many schools in Canada don't require all the prerequisites US schools do, so if you don't need them to get into your chosen schools, and they're not going to be part of your GPA, is it worth it, or would it be better to simply prepare for the MCAT and focus everything you have on acing that instead? Finally, if you do take all the prerequisite courses, they'll be accepted by Canadian schools that require prereqs, even if they aren't calculated as part of your GPA, so you're good there.
  6. Hello everyone, I hope you're enjoying these last few weeks before classes start up again. I have a question about the possible benefits and drawbacks of conducting research abroad. A professor at my university is preparing a team of students to conduct a nursing research study in Brazil, for three months next summer, through MITACS. In the interest of gaining research experience, I've applied to be a research assistant on this team. However, I'm wondering if the amount of time I'll have to commit to it wouldn't be better spent elsewhere? I'm working on getting my Portuguese up to a passable level, I'll be trained as a research assistant throughout the year, and the study itself will take three months in another country. That's a lot of time to be dedicating to just this one study. My biggest concern is that medical schools in Canada and the US might not consider research conducted in another country as equal to research done in Canada or the US, because of possible differences in standards or methods. On the other hand, the whole purpose of MITACS is to connect researchers at different institutions across the world, and I don't believe my professor would be willing to put her name on a study that she thought might be sub-par. Does anyone else have any experience working with MITACS? Is this a good opportunity, or would the time I'd need to commit to it be better spent elsewhere? Also, if anyone else has any questions or information on conducting research outside of North America, please feel free to share.
  7. Hello everyone, I hope you've all had a safe and enjoyable long weekend. I'm starting this thread to ask about what I can do to improve my application while I'm still an undergrad student, and provide an opportunity for other undergrads to share advice and experiences on what they can do to strengthen their application. I'm going into my third year of undergraduate study (Nursing at Ryerson), and I'm wondering what I can do to round out my application while I've still got a few years to do so. In terms of academics, my overall OMSAS GPA is 3.85 (3.86 with summer courses). Year 1 was 3.78, year 2 was 3.95. Definitely not the greatest, and I'm going to try and make the most of these next two years. In Year 1 of my program they gave us a heavy course load: 7 in first semester and 6 in second, but I knew it was going to be tough when I entered the program so that's no excuse. In terms of ECs, I've been volunteering at a homeless shelter in downtown Toronto since summer of 2017, and volunteering at a long term care residence since October of 2015 (this was actually where I decided to go into health care). I'm also the director of community outreach for a nursing student's organization, I'm part of UHN's learner leadership advisory committee, and I'm a Pharmacology/pathology tutor for lower year nursing students; I work with a few other classmates to create mock exams for them, which we then take up as a group. For research experience, I've recently found a professor who needs help with 3 studies she wants completed by the end of the summer. I'd be working with her and a team of other students to help coauthor these studies. This is qualitative nursing research, but I've been looking for an opportunity like this for a year now, so I'm thrilled to take any research experience I can get. I've also signed up for a 3 month research project in Brazil next summer (I'm working on my Portuguese). So on the research end of things, I think I've got some great opportunities coming up soon. It may not be biomedical research, but my thinking is that a) any research is better than nothing, and b) it could very well open the door for participation in clinical research projects during the next few years. My question is, what are the things I can improve upon, and what should I focus on most of all? Right now, my main concern is my GPA, which I'll have the opportunity to improve over the next two years. Are there any other types of research or volunteer experiences I should be keeping an eye open for? If you're an undergrad student, also looking to see what you can do to improve, please, share your perspective or any concerns you have about your application as well.
  8. I'm pretty much in the same boat as you; my first year was a full course load (7 first, 6 second), but in my second year I did 4 and 4. I've emailed a few medical schools about this that use a weighted GPA formula (UBC and U of T), and they've all told me that they give you a section on their application forms to explain your situation if you think you deserve to have the weighted GPA formula applied. So you still get the chance to explain why you think you deserve the wGPA, they may be willing to apply a wGPA formula anyway. However, it's entirely up to them whether they do it or not, and at U of T at least, they won't tell you if they gave you the wGPA or used the cGPA. I also emailed the Schulich School, and they said they consider the best two years where you were taking a full course load.So unfortunately, it looks like any year where you weren't taking a full 5 courses wouldn't be counted at that school. Congrats on finishing you first year with such a great GPA, I'm sure you worked hard for it.
  9. I have a fairly specific query related to course load: does anyone know if clinical placements that are part of my program can be used to reach a full course load? I'm a nursing student in my second year of school, and for this year, I took a few courses over the summer, and now from September to April I'm in 4 courses (each one is a full year course), and my clinical placements are considered a part of one of those courses (it's not like other schools where the clinical placements are their own pass/fail component). What I'm wondering is, can my clinical placements be counted to reach a full course load? In terms of hours of class per week, I'm not hurting for hours at all. My placements for this year consist of 8 hours each week in first semester, and 12 hours each week in second. That's on top of our class component: in first semester we'd have 6 hours of class each week, and now in second semester we have 4 hours of class every other week (to offset the time difference due to the clinical time being 4 hours longer each week). So that class is basically 12-16 hours each week, not just 3 hours like the rest of my classes. If I hurt my chances by only taking 4 courses this year, I get it; that's on me. I should have thought of this beforehand, and I'm not trying to make excuses for myself. But in the 4th year of my program, in the first semester students are only scheduled to take 4 courses, and in second semester, students are only scheduled to take 2 courses: the clinical practice class, and another professional elective. The reason for this reduced amount of classes is that the placements are now 36 hours each week. It's a full work week, because this semester is your last stop before you're an RN. So if that's not going to be considered a full course load, does that mean that choosing this very program eliminated my chances of being considered for a wGPA, or can I write to them and try to grovel for special consideration? I'm not trying to commandeer this thread with my sad little life story, but I figured I'd be better off posting in an existing thread related to my concern, rather than starting a whole new one.
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